Left-handed relief pitcher Arthur Rhodes was designated for assignment last week to create room on the Texas Rangers' roster for newly-acquired setup man Mike Adams. The 41-year-old Rhodes, who signed a one-year, $3.9 million deal with the Rangers this past offseason, has also reportedly been placed on release waivers, meaning that he will most likely become a free agent on Wednesday.
Rhodes has been nothing short of a journeyman throughout his career. Among the oldest active players in baseball (and one of few still playing in the bigs who was born in the 1960s), he has played for eight teams in his 20-season career: the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners (twice), Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, and the Rangers.
Over the span of his career, he's posted an 87-69 record with a 4.08 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 881 games consisting of 81 starts. He's also racked up 33 saves and has finished 160 games.
Rhodes has been an average player throughout his career, and this season has been a continuing trend of that: in 32 games this year, he's posted a 3-3 record with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP in 24.1 innings pitched with one save and 10 games finished.
What's attractive about him, though, is the fact that he is a left-handed relief pitcher, and he's held left-handed hitters to batting just .216 against him this year. There are quite a few teams who could use him, such as the St. Louis Cardinals.
However, one team who could be a dark horse for his services could be one of his former clubs, the Phillies. The Phils, who have been short of a left-handed reliever since they released J.C. Romero, have since been looking for a replacement.
While they have tried out career minor-league pitcher Juan Perez, who hasn't really added anything to the team this year, they recently sent him back down to the minors to make room for Roy Oswalt on Sunday, who was making his first start since coming off the DL due to bulging discs in his back.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb also considered the idea of signing Rhodes through the rest of the season, and he would be dirt-cheap, coming at the major-league minimum of $414,000 for the remainder of the year due to his release, meaning the Rangers are on the hook for the deal they signed him to, not the Phillies, so signing him means he most likely wouldn't push the team over the luxury tax threshold.
Rhodes previously came to Philly in a trade with the Indians that sent Jason Michaels to Cleveland in return. During his lone year here in Philadelphia in 2006, Rhodes was nothing short of awful: in 55 games and 45.2 innings pitched, Rhodes went 0-5 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. After the season Rhodes' three-year contract ended, and the Phillies chose to let him walk, and for good reason, too.
However, Rhodes could be the kind of player who could turn out to be high-risk, high-reward. Aside from Antonio Bastardo, who has been phenomenal this year in the bullpen (5-0, 1.49 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, eight saves in 46 games, 42.1 innings pitched), the Phillies don't have another southpaw to compliment Bastardo, let alone give him rest.
After all, he is only 25 years old, and wear and tear on a young arm like that of Bastardo can sometimes lead to disastrous results in the future (see Kerry Wood).
Since Bastardo is the only southpaw reliever currently on the team, he's needed more than any other reliever, especially since the Phillies have had to use four relievers to close this season (Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Jose Contreras, and Bastardo) due to injuries of the other three aforementioned pitchers. And it shows: of all relievers on the team, Bastardo leads in appearances with 46, with Ryan Madson in second with 39.
Rhodes could be an impact player down the stretch, including during the postseason, should the Phillies acquire him before the August 31 waiver trade deadline. It's not like he doesn't have postseason experience, either: he's pitched in 21 games (17.1 IP) in the postseason, although he has a high 4.67 ERA and unsightly 1.50 WHIP.
But with all high-risk, high-reward players, sometimes it just takes a little something like a change of scenery of motivation of being with the best team in baseball for the remainder of the year. Not that the Rangers were bad, it's just that the Phillies are better. Just ask Cliff Lee.
It's shown in the past for Rhodes that he's pitched well with age as well—in fact, during his time with the Reds from 2009-2010, when he was age 39 and 40, respectively, Rhodes went 5-5 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over those two seasons, having averaged 68 games each season and just 54.0 innings pitched. Impressive.
Should the Phillies choose to pursue Rhodes and bring him back to Philadelphia, he could be a huge mistake, too. The guy's 41 years old and he hasn't looked as sharp this season as he did the two prior with Cincinnati. But he's also the kind of guy who could come at a relatively low price for a couple of months and could make a difference both down the stretch and into the playoffs. Rhodes could be an extremely huge risk—but he could very well be worth it in the end.